the changing nature of photography

So. Have you heard the latest about Eastman Kodak?

Yesterday, I came across this CNN article about Kodak's recent bankruptcy.  It's a great, though somewhat depressing read about Kodak in particular, and the evolution of personal photography in general, but it was the following passage that caught my eye:

Amateurs, of course, have been indulging in digital for years. Processing film takes money and -- perhaps more importantly -- time. Now everything can be transferred from a camera to a computer as quickly as popping in a USB drive. Anticipation is as long gone from the process as Fotomat booths.

"My kids' relationship to photography is completely different," says Saab. "They think you take pictures with a phone." And prints? Almost never.

The last part of this excerpt almost made me weep openly.

Since I began journaling a few years ago, I try to print my favourite photographs -- just cheaply, uploading them online to a local drugstore and picking up 4"x6" prints an hour later -- and stick them randomly in the pages of my journal.  My goal was to keep this practice up weekly, but I don't do it nearly as often as I'd like; sometimes months go by before I print any photos.  Still, it occurred to me one day about a year ago that for all of the negative environmental press that paper gets, it's the only media that is guaranteed to still be accessible 50 years from now (for example, when's the last time you downloaded a photograph from a floppy disk?).  Printed photographs might be the only real way to save them, you know?  And that CNN piece agrees:

Indeed, there's an impermanence to it all now. As one commenter to the Atlantic story pointed out, "The pictures last, even if the cameras didn't: I have family photographs from the 19th century. I (wonder) if, in 100 years, people will have the digital images from the late 20th? 'Oh, yeah, they were on that computer that died and we never got the files off of it.' "

So I was wondering:  do you guys ever print your photographs?  Do your kids ever want cameras as gifts, or do they just go straight to the smartphones with cameras in them?  Do you keep photo albums? I mean, not scrapbooks, necessarily, but just straight-up albums, full of nothing but photographs, like in the olden days?  To own a camera, does a person have to actually be "into photography," rather than simply wanting to take the occasional snapshot or party pic?  And if we're not printing photographs, and we're just opening our images to a fate of drifting off into the oblivion of old computers and crashed hard drives, what's the real reason we take photographs at all?

I'd love to hear your thoughts.


SongKodachrome by Paul Simon

Karen Walrond48 Comments